Eating Your Words

The fascinating origins of everyday culinary words and phrases

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Food glorious food!

Everything but the kitchen sink

Keep the pot boiling

Out of the frying pan

Salad days  

In the soup!

Cook one’s goose  

Give us a butchers!   

What a sauce!

A sandwich short of a picnic

Feeling groggy           

Just my cup of tea

Look to your laurels   

The spice of life      

In a nutshell   


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The meaning and origin of drink-related words and phrases

Nowadays, cordials are soft (i.e. non-alcoholic) drinks based on fruit. They are often made by diluting a concentrated fruit juice. However, cordials were originally an alcoholic drink made with a spirit, sweetened and infused with fruit etc to give it extra flavour and a perfume. They were credited with stimulating the heart and thus were given a name borrowed from the Medieval Latin cordialis meaning 'of or for the heart' from the Latin cor 'heart'. The word cordial has retained its connection with the heart in its other meaning of sincere/hearty, as used in the phrase 'you are cordially invited to'.

Beverage is a term that describes a liquid consumed as a drink. Dating back to around 1300, from the Old French bevrage, itself from bevre meaning 'to drink' but its ultimate derivation is the Latin bibere meaning drink, which is also the root of the word imbibe. Beverage also shares its origin with the word bevy or bevvy, a colloquial term for an alcoholic drink that dates from the late 19th century.  

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The food of the gods